SOUTHBANK POP UP 2018
Location: Hungerford Bridge, London
Client: Southbank Centre
Contractor: Pankhurst Contracting
Furniture: WOODO (Freestanding Furniture)
Hand-painted signs: Robin Signs
Shutters: Access Security
Services and Site Management: Southbank Centre
Traders: Bleecker, The Hop Locker, Oh My Dog!
Last November, following on from earlier discussions at the 2016 and 2017 editions of their Summer Festival, the Southbank Centre invited us to develop a design proposal for the entire area under the Hungerford Bridge.
The three 2017 traders were to, once more, form part of the space and it was important that the proposal benefited all of them by providing a quality backdrop from which to draw crowds in.
The original proposal included a business case for our design prepared by Bleecker founder Zan Kauffman. who analised the proposal against last years to highlight the level of earnings and benefits to be expected both by traders and Southbank itself.
After a couple of initial meeting, in February, we were appointed to take the project forward.
The Queens Walk had traditionally been used as a thoroughfare alongside which one would find businesses providing different types of services to visitors and passers-by.
In contrast, the London Southbank centre is one of the largest and most lively public spaces in central London attracting, each year millions of visitors drawn by both its programme and food/drink offer.
With this in mind, in 2016, we (Bleecker and atelier EURA) decided to embrace the opportunity of such a prime location and turn the space under the Hungerford Bridge into a destination by using design both to increase visibility and create a welcoming environment where people could sit and enjoy their meal.
The most important urban elements adjacent to the site the bridge, the Southbank Centre and the River Thames defined the character of the temporary square and shaped its configuration.
By facing the river, we were able to expand the sense of space beyond the edge of the Queen’s Walk and highlight the urban quality of this space.
The choice of colours was conscious: The dark background ensured durability and the large graphics helped draw interest event from the walkways above the space.
Seats:36 Standing: 12 around barrels, 16 standing at the rear
For 2017, Southbank took over the entire space, changed the bar arrangements and introduced a third trader with the intention of increasing variety. Each of the three traders was only able to provide as many seats as possible within their designated area.
At the time, we were only working at the Bleecker end but learning from the previous year, and with families in mind, we decided to provide two sitting arrangements:
On the one side, the tables and benches which were nearest to the walk were increased in length and turned around to facilitate access.
On the other, we also created a continuous sitting area against the wall at the back with smaller tables and benches which enabled families to have room to locate their prams and sit children in a row.
The colours chosen by Southbank for the walls did not relate to anyone branding in order to create a neutral backdrop
Seats:60 Standing: 12 around barrels
LESSONS LEARNT 2017
1. From the point of view of construction, having one company building all the hoardings throughout and another one painting it was very efficient
2. From the Health and Safety point of view (inc deliveries), it also simplified the process
3. The best use of the space for this area is the full length of the bridge in order to attract people
4. Through the Bleecker sitting proposal, we proved that both the long tables and the continuous sitting are a draw to families and large groups such as the group of Chinese students which visited Bleecker over the summer.
1. The lack of seating in the bar (only 10 stools were provided) put a lot of pressure on the food traders whose customers were often left without a seat to eat
2. The position of the bar at the rear, with a large void in front of it interrupted the flow of the square
3. The servicing of the bar, located off the square, required deliveries to be taken through the middle of the square rather than a quiet and safer area
4. The colours were pastel and looked very tired by August.
5. The weather was not ideal and the above issues gained further importance because they limited the opportunities of the good weather days.
With the lessons learnt from previous years, we proposed that for 2018, we treated this space as an unified temporary public square which will be functioning as such from the beginning of May until the end of September.
We proposed that the two food traders remain at both ends of the square and the bar in the middle. (All servicing access to be located by both lifts)
However, rather than a container at the back of the square, the bar became a volume projecting into the space, in a spline which will allow serving in two directions in order to cater to the largest amount of customers.
The is continuous along the walls at either side of the bar with small tables following the bench and additional tables positioned perpendicularly along the walk.
In 2017 the weather was very bad and the rain often entered the containers, and hence we added a small eaves projection running along the wall above the building/hoarding line.
In order to provide further cover, and minimise the loss of trade, we proposed two lightweight roofs above each of the spaces which will cover a good amount of seats.
The choice of colour, a dark grey, will ensure durability and also create a good background for either artwork or some large scale graphics.
By introducing concave curves on the walls, we used an old architectural trick to make visitors feel welcome / embraced. This, together with the continuous bench which when occupied provides an animated backdrop, allowed us to turn the space into a welcoming one.
The industrial context has been a defining factor when looking at the overall appearance but the warmth of timber has been used to soften those elements which are closest to the visitors.
The use of colour (Southbank Centre's yellow) aims at highlighting the columns and the bins as well as to provide some cheerful tones for those grey days.
ARCHIMAKE SUMMER CAMP
During this summer, and making use of the space available and flexible sitting, we had the opportunity to collaborate with Bleecker's engineers in our Streetfood Architecture Design workshop for the Summer Camp of Archimake .
Archimake is a beautiful project aimed at teaching children what the Built Environement encompasses. It was an honour to be part of their Summer Camp.